CHOPIN FOR SOLO PIANO

Tim Horton

Upper Chapel, Sheffield
Saturday 6 April 2024, 7.00pm

Tickets
£21 
£14 UC, DLA or PIP
£5 Under 35s & Students

Book Tickets

CHOPIN     
Polonaise in F sharp minor Op.44 (10’)
Waltz in A flat Op.42 (4’)
Three Mazurkas Op.56 (12’)
Nocturne in B Op.62 No.1 (7’)
Barcarolle in F sharp Op.60 (8’)
Polonaise in C minor Op.40 No.2 (9’)
Three Waltzes Op.64 (8’)
Impromptu No.2 in F sharp Op.36 (6’)
Nocturne in E Op.62 No.2 (5’)
Andante Spianato and Grand Polonaise brillante Op.22 (14’) 

Tim Horton’s series focusing on Chopin reaches a spectacular conclusion with a sequence of the composer’s works that confirm his music as some of the finest ever written for the piano. Tim will be our guide through Chopin’s powerful Polish mazurkas and polonaises, atmospheric nocturnes and whirling waltzes, including the ever-popular ‘Minute Waltz’. To send us off into the spring evening, Tim will play the Andante Spianato and Grand Polonaise brillante, a perfect summary of Chopin’s genius that pairs beauty with thrilling virtuosity. 

Includes free post-concert Q&A 

Save £s when you book for 5 Music in the Round concerts or more at the same timeFind out more here.

View the brochure for our Sheffield 2024 concerts online here or download it below.

Download

CHOPIN Frédéric, Polonaise in F sharp minor Op.44

Chopin’s ability to reimagine traditional dance forms in the most startling ways is nowhere more apparent than in the Polonaise in F sharp minor, Op.44. Beginning with a mysterious and sinister opening phrase, the main polonaise theme emerges with music that is marked by a kind of restless rage. At the centre of the piece there is relief in the form of a tender mazurka, but the polonaise returns as fierce as ever until it seems to collapse, exhausted, rousing itself for the brutal final bare octaves. After finishing the work in 1841, Chopin wrote to his publisher to announce that ‘I have a manuscript for your disposal. It is a kind of fantasy in polonaise form. But I call it a Polonaise.’ 

 

© Nigel Simeone 

CHOPIN Frédéric, Waltz in A flat Op.42

The Waltz in A flat, Op.42, was written in 1840. Wilhelm von Lenz recalled Chopin playing it: ‘The waltz, springing from the eight-bar trill, should evoke a musical clock, according to Chopin himself. In his own performances … he would play it as a continuous stretto prestissimo with the bass maintaining a steady beat – a garland of flowers winding amidst the dancing couples!’ 

 

© Nigel Simeone

CHOPIN Frédéric, Three Mazurkas Op.56

The mazurka was the Polish dance form Chopin chose for some of his most experimental pieces, combining nostalgia with innovation. The set of Three Mazurkas Op.56 was published in 1844. The B major mazurka begins with a restless theme in the left hand, answered with more confidence by the right hand. There are two contrasting sections (in different keys, E flat and G) before the last return of the opening idea brings resolution. The C major mazurka is boisterous and rustic, with bare open fifths in the bass and a theme full of Polish inflections. The third mazurka has been described as a kind of ‘dance poem’: the musical elements of the mazurka are pared down to produce something which one commentator described as ‘the music of memories rather than of reality’ while another saw its audacious harmonies as providing ‘the foundations for the music of the future.’ 

CHOPIN Frédéric, Nocturne in B Op.62 No.1

The Two Nocturnes published as Op. 62 were composed in 1845–6. The song-like main theme of the B major Nocturne frames a central section (marked sostenuto) and when it is reprised Chopin adds decorations in the manner of an operatic aria – reflecting his admiration for Bellini’s operasThe E major Nocturne was Chopin’s farewell to the form and while it has moments of agitation, the main feeling is of quiet nobility. 

 

© Nigel Simeone

CHOPIN Frédéric, Barcarolle in F sharp Op.60

The Barcarolle in F sharp, Op.60 was written in the summer of 1845. Chopin never went to Venice to hear an authentic barcarolle, but inspiration may have come from Mendelssohn’s Venetian Gondola Song which Chopin used to give his pupils to play. Described by the German musicologist Hugo Leichtentritt as ‘a work of bewildering beauty’, it was taken up by Chopin’s near-contemporaries such as Clara Schumann and Hans von Bülow. Carl Tausig – a Liszt pupil – even invented a fanciful programme for it in which two lovers met secretly in a gondola. Chopin’s wonderful exploration of piano colours and sonorities in the Barcarolle had a powerful appeal for later composers: Ravel described it as ‘magical’ while Olivier Messiaen declared that its rich and resonant piano writing influenced his own music – a century after Chopin. 

 

© Nigel Simeone

CHOPIN Frédéric, Polonaise in C minor Op.40 No.2

The Polonaise in C minor, Op. 40 No. 2 was completed in 1839 and is another work in this form which explores the darker side of Chopin’s musical character. Its mood was well summarised over a century ago by the Chopin scholar Ferdinand Hoesick who described it as ‘gloomy’ with a ‘tragic loftiness’. Chopin dedicated it to his friend Julian Fontana.  

 

© Nigel Simeone

CHOPIN Frédéric, Three Waltzes Op.64

Chopin’s Three Waltzes, Op.64 were composed in 1846–7. The first of them, the so-called ‘Minute’ Waltz’, looks back to Chopin’s earlier ‘brilliant’ style and was said by one contemporary to be a musical portrait of its dedicatee, Chopin’s friend and pupil Delfina Potocka. The second, in C sharp minor, is an exquisite miniature combining intimacy and melancholy in the most concise, unsentimental way. The last of the Op.64 waltzes is more enigmatic: its moods shifting uneasily at times, but finding repose in the central Trio. 

 

© Nigel Simeone

CHOPIN Frédéric, Impromptu No.2 in F sharp Op.36

Like the earlier Barcarolle, the Impromptu Op.36 is in the key of F sharp major. Written in 1839, it combines elements of favourite Chopin forms such as the nocturne and ballade to create a freer and more improvisatory work where wonderment and heroism sit side-by-side. 

 

© Nigel Simeone

CHOPIN Frédéric, Nocturne in E Op.62 No.2

Marked Lento sostenuto, this Nocturne (composed in 1846) is in E major and opens with a long-breathed melody – lyrical but never sentimental – and this is contrasted with a much more turbulent middle section. By this late stage in his career, Chopin had complete mastery of his preferred forms, and this Nocturne – the last to be published during his lifetime – is a beautifully balanced structure which perfectly suits the changing moods of the music, and Chopin’s careful control of emotion: this is music that never wears its heart on its sleeve, but which seems, instead, to be a noble contemplation.

 

Nigel Simeone

CHOPIN Frédéric, Andante Spianato and Grand Polonaise brillante Op.22

The Andante spianato and Grande Polonaise brillante began as the polonaise alone, composed in 1831. Chopin added the Andante spianato in 1834 and the combined work was published in 1836, in versions for piano solo or with orchestral accompaniment. The two sections complement each other: the Andante rippling gently and the Polonaise bursting into exuberant life. 

 

© Nigel Simeone

“Tim Horton’s unaffected, heartfelt playing is perfectly judged.”

The Arts Desk

You May Also Like...